Growth/Long-term open questions


Research undertaken over several years by many groups has helped the Growth team learn a lot about the motivations and challenges of new editors, in particular the New Editor Experiences research. Though we have learned a lot, there are still many open questions that need to be answered in order to help the team increase the retention of new editors. The team will have many opportunities to learn answers to these questions, such as research projects, surveys, and learning through our features. With the list on this page, we're recording our most important open questions so that we can make sure to learn as much as we can. This list may evolve over time as questions are answered and new ones arise.

Long-term open questions[edit]

Top four questions[edit]

Our team's top four most important open questions are:

  • Fitting in: how do we help a new editor find a role in their wiki that...
    • ...fits their interests?
    • ...fits their skillset?
    • ...fits the wiki's needs?
  • Mentorship: how can we make it so that mentorship is seen as part of what it means to be a good editor?
  • Anonymous editors: who are the anonymous editors, and how should we engage them?
  • Social media: what is the role of social media in attracting and retaining new editors?

Full list of questions[edit]

The following is a running list of all the open questions we have discussed, including even when they are redundant. The top four questions above are drawn from grouping and discussing the full list.

Topic Questions
Anonymous editors Why do people create (and not create) accounts?
Anonymous editors What share of productive edits are made by anonymous editors?
Anonymous editors Why and how do we lose anonymous editors? Why don't they create accounts?
Anonymous editors Can we unpack the anonymous editors to understand them more?
Anonymous editors Who are the anonymous editors?
Anonymous editors How should we engage anonymous editors? Should we encourage them to make accounts?
Gamification What role can/should gamification or other such techniques have in working to improve retention?
Gamification Can we gamify new contributions (e.g. Streakboard)?
Finding a home in the wikis How effective are micro-contributions and review tasks (esp. on other wiki projects like Wikidata and Commons) in converting users to Wikipedia editors?
Finding a home in the wikis Can WikiProjects be a route for getting new editors positively engaged with the community? (e.g. WikiProject Medicine)
Finding a home in the wikis How can we structure newbies experience to be a win-win for them and the wiki?
Finding a home in the wikis Do newcomers know when they've done something good?
Finding a home in the wikis How can we diminish the impact of patrollers who are not nurturing toward new editors?
Finding a home in the wikis How can we make experienced editors handling newcomer contributions not feel overwhelmed?
Finding a home in the wikis Should the Content Translation Tool play a larger role in the new editor experience?
Finding a home in the wikis Can we steer new editors away from making new pages and instead toward improving existing pages?
Finding a home in the wikis How do we get new editors into the funnel based on content they're probably interested in?
Finding a home in the wikis How can new editors find the best way for them to participate?
Finding a home in the wikis Are there types of content or contribution activities that new editors prefer?
Machine Learning Can we use machine learning for new editor retention?
Machine Learning How can we use technology to solve what are (likely) social problems?
Mentorship Can we help experienced editors view mentorship as an important part of being a good editor?
Mentorship How to change the community’s point of view about how important it is to welcome new people?
Mentorship How can a good mentor be rewarded?
Mentorship What is the culture of mentorship and how do we change it?
Other Is it more productive to engage new editors on an individual level or through intermediaries (like events or groups)?
Other To what extent do articles/edits on current events drive wiki and community growth?
Other What is the right balance of focusing on newcomers vs. focusing on experienced editors?
Other How important is it for new editors to engage with “the community” for retention? Does it have a positive effect or negative? (i.e. using talk + wikipedia namespaces)
Other Does the existing conflict resolution process help or hurt retention and growth?
Other What has helped successful editors understand the conceptual pillars?
Other What specific moments make new editors leave or make new editors stay?
Other Are we tracking where new contributors dropped off?
Other Are the challenges on retention the same in different platforms (mobile, desktop, apps)?
Other How do sister projects together grow our user base, e.g. Wikisource, Commons, Wikidata, etc.?
Other Can sister projects become places for newcomers to learn more easily than on Wikipedia?
Other Are there culturally specific attributes/practices/contribution preferences across different language wikis that affect retention of new editors?
Other The amount of content is different from wiki to wiki. Should that mean that different strategies should be used to attract new editors?
Other Which wikis are best for learning and experimenting?
Other Can we teach new editors to add sources/citations?
Personas Is it more realistic to help newbies become active editors (every day or week) or occasional editors (every month)?
Personas Can we distinguish good-faith new editors from ones that are arguably aren’t (self-promotion) etc.?
Personas Does the reported user journey reflect reality? (e.g. do users behave the way they say they do?)
Personas How can we classify actual users into personas?
Personas To what extent are “personas” quantifiable?
Social Media What is the role of social media in attracting and retaining new editors?

Making the list[edit]

During the Growth team's September 2018 offsite meeting, we took time to brainstorm and discuss the most important open questions around new editor retention. Each team member individually wrote down several open questions on sticky notes. Then we shared them with the team and grouped similar questions together on the wall. These grouping helped us see which questions came up over and over, and helped us understand what our most important open questions are. Below is a photo of the team discussing the many questions.

The Growth team used sticky notes to record, group, and discuss long-term questions.